CONFORMING TO NOTHING
Chaim Machlev started tattooing about eight years ago, after transplanting himself to Germany by riding on nothing but good vibes. Wearing his aspirations on his sleeve, he jumped on the scene despite barely having a place to stay and zero fine arts training. His current work still exudes that freshness; unhinged experimentation and an aversion to that which has been made standard. Eight years ago, Chaim’s lack of experience could’ve deterred him from every tattoo shop in Berlin, but instead, it gave him a blank slate, a sliver of opportunity, and something to prove.
I can’t call Chaim’s work geometric. I also can’t call it ornamental, illustrative, or black and grey, even though it technically is all of those things- tattoo vocabulary is a little blunt when it comes to categorizing. I can, however, say it’s evolutionary; sure, there are elements that stay consistent with popular design work, but something is always a little twisted, skewed and turned in a completely different direction, until it becomes another entity overall. A lot of his artwork is rooted in spiritual symbolism, with the sacred mandala shape rounding out the list. Though no tattoo of his mimics another, Chaim’s designs are a collective interpretation of relationships-between body and mind, body and nature, and the undefined currents that blow it all into existence.